A new book has just been released by Cambridge University Press entitled Women’s Writing of Ancient Mesopotamia An Anthology of the Earliest Female Authors!
It is an anthology of translations from the ancient Near East of various writings by women. The translations include letters, religious hymns, inscriptions, prophecies, and various other types of texts. All of them considered some of the earliest examples of writing done by women in history. The only downside is that the book is quite expensive right, but hopefully that will change in the future and/or a paperback edition will soon follow.
Stefan’s Florilegium has a couple of articles on period cosmetics and perfumes, which I can’t seem to link directly to – but just do a search there for “cosmetics” and you’ll be happy.
Be wary of the “Encyclopedia of Cosmetics” type books, because if they do talk about SCA period, it’s super quick and tend to not be cited well. And if you’re looking at non-western European makeup…yeah.
Two years ago, Northshield went through a meme craze with the tag “We Are Northshield.” This was my submission.
At the time, I hadn’t fully committed to a Chinese persona. (And frankly, I still cling to the whole Time Lord thing because there are far too many interesting things to research to nail oneself down, but I do admit to having my TARDIS stuck in 8th century China.) But now, my Chinese name is registered as my primary. So that happened.
I say all this as an introduction to an issue that has been bubbling under the surface of SCAdian culture for some time now – the inclusion of non-western European personas/research.
Years ago, it was Japan. Japanologists struggled to find acceptance within the SCA, and are pretty well established now. The Ottoman Empire, various eras of Persia, and even Mongols have found a niche.
But there are still people who sneer and eyebrow and even go so far as to speak to non-European personas about how they’re presence is ruining their game.
Pardon me, m’lady/m’lord One True Century.
Until we can document time machines (or Time Lords, for that matter) in period, you’re not going to convince me that the 9th century Norse folks or the Picts aren’t ruining your game any more or less than me and my bevy of beautiful Tang Dynasty ladies, or the fabulosity that is Ancient Egypt or the Oyo Empire.
(By the way, your silk Gothic fitted gown is gorgeous. Guess where sericulture was invented and refined before it made its way to you along a trade route that had been in existence for over two thousand years before your persona was even a glimmer in your mother’s eye.)
That’s not even touching the point that while you, so entrenched in your Tudor or your 14th century wherever, have a veritable cornucopia of established, published, and verified research at your disposal, while we
– have to scrape and struggle as we blaze new trails;
– desperately search for English sources and translators for the non-English sources;
– battle myth, “traditional,” and a dearth of citations; and,
– do experimental archeology pretty much every time we pick up a needle and thread.
We are brave for trying new things. For searching for nuggets to chew on and broaden the horizons of the SCA. For not wanting to do what has been done, but wanting to learn new things and share them. For trying to find a way to incorporate the equivalent of heraldry and sumptuary law into a system not equipped to handle us. For teaching new things to enrich everyone’s knowledge and experience.
Does this make us better than you?
Nope. Not saying that. Definitely do not want to get into a merit-judging match here.
…and we all know what I did next. I googled the hell out of that shit because Amazons in pants. And armor! If you don’t know why that got me so excited you probably haven’t read my post on sexily functional women’s armor yet. And what I found was not only more pants…
Including these, and I will explain in another post why I think they may be armor pants, but also these…
Oh, yes. If you’re going to wear pants to stay warm and prevent saddle-sores, as many a Central-Asian cavalry culture does, you might as well wear stylin’ pants. But it gets better.
Here we have a reconstruction of statue of of a Trojan archer wearing Scythian clothes. Chemical analysis of paint residue on classical statues has revealed that they were, in fact, gaudy as a ‘70s rally (this is also true of medieval churches and other buildings), although this dude is spectacularly obnoxious.
That’s right, folks. The original Wonder Women were glamazons.
This diamond or zigzag pattern is the most common one on most of the images I’ve looked at (and there are HUNDREDS, it turns out), and I have an opinion about that, but it’s not the only one, because no girl wants to show up to battle looking just like everybody else.
Here Antiope wears a striking linear pattern, with some polka-dots to break it up–but is she as into their relationship as Theseus is?
At the Amazon-Greek mixer, the boys brought no interesting fashion to the party, but the girls were on point as always! Here another polka-dot look, there zigzag pants, and what may be tattoos on the lady just left of center, while the one on the far right looks to be rocking either a zigzag tunic or scalemail body armor.
Hipster Amazons, wearing leggings and dresses before it was cool, with a fun diamond mix. Shouldn’t you look as sharp as your sword?
Consider this manuscript in light of the article I posted 2 days ago about historical European mixed race families. A lot of similar articles go right from Roman Britain to Renaissance Italy, but documents like this that often bridge the historical “gap” because go unremarked upon because they’re often not considered analgous to written records or artistic depictions. What they do, rather, is show that in the imagination of artists during this time, racial diversity was part of their social consciousness and how they envisioned concepts like “a family”. My thanks to Dr Caitlin R Green on bringing this manuscript to my attention.
Forty years old this year, the coconut sketch in Monty Python and the Holy Grail may be one of the most iconic opening scenes in film history. The pillar of chivalry, Arthur, King of the Britons, appears riding an imaginary horse like a child on a playground. His faithful servant, Patsy, accompanies him, banging two coconut halves together to make the sound of the horse’s hooves. Arthur and Patsy are very, very serious about their quest. They are the only ones who are.
The whole scene concentrates on those coconuts. The put-upon straight-man of the film, Arthur, gamely tries to explain the existence of coconuts in medieval England (“they could have been carried”). The grail remains all but forgotten as the guards on the castle walls uproariously tear down his explanations. (“Are you suggesting that coconuts migrate?”)… Audiences are left in stitches and thoroughly convinced of the impossibility of coconuts existing in medieval England.
Except medieval England was lousy with coconuts. No, really, and Monty Python may well have known it.
They’re Oxbridge men, after all, and several Oxford and Cambridge colleges still preserve coconuts given to them in the fifteenth century. Here’s a fifteenth-century coconut cup that came to Oxford more recently. While parts of it were added more recently, the original elements are medieval. This is the only medieval English coconut cup currently displayed online, and it shows how the shell was strapped into a goblet form using a harness of silver or gold. The English continued to make coconut cups after the medieval period—in the sixteenth century, seventeenth century, and beyond. They were numerous enough that by the fifteenth century, individual households might boast several coconut cups. One humble esquire highlighted the prestige of these cups when he willed his coconut cup to his heir in tail male, just like the Bennett estate in Pride and Prejudice or the Crawley estate in Downton Abbey.
But why make luxurious golden goblets out of coconuts? And how did they get to medieval England anyway, if swallows didn’t carry them?
In the Middle Ages, coconut palms were not yet as widespread as they are today. Coconuts grew in their native Maldives, in India, and perhaps parts of western Africa and the Middle East. (They were also growing in western Central America, but had gotten there on their own, crossing the pacific like small, tasty boats without a swallow in sight.) Coconuts formed a regular part of commerce across the Indian Ocean from Roman times, and this trade appears to have continued with little disruption straight through the ancient and medieval periods. Given England’s Roman history, it isn’t impossible that Life of Brian-era English might also have had access to coconuts. These coconuts weren’t transported all that way to be made into cups, however. They were imported as medicine.
Beginning regularly once again in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, medicinal coconuts arrived in England. This time, they were packed on Venetian galleys along with luxuries from silks to sugar, and next to exotic pets like monkeys and parrots. In turn, the Venetians got the coconuts from Alexandria and from the same trade networks that the coconuts had been part of for millennia.
They were not called coconuts, either. The name “coconut” derives from the Portuguese and dates to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries-after the medieval period. In the Middle Ages, Europe knew the coconut as the “Nut of India” or “Great Nut.” It was the great, big whopping nut that was transported all the way from India—the only nut large enough to make into a drinking cup.
Officially registering a name is super awesome, so first of all – rock on you for doing it.
To register a name, you will go through your Kingdom’s College of Heralds. You can usually find it on your kingdom’s website, or by searching “<kingdom name> heralds” in Google. There is a form you fill out with basic information, the name you want, and your documentation.
So yes. Yes you have to have documentation. Even if your name is John or Katherine.
Okay, so to start, these are pretty fun. They look like starfish!
A wild hennin has appeared!
I looked in Google Books for henins*, and the only references to the “triple-horned” variety seemed sketchy – meaning they didn’t have citations. it looks like the origin of this image and concept is from a variety of ladies journals from the 1880s. Yay Victorian myths about 15th century clothing.
But just in case, I reached out to a newly-minted Laurel who is known for her hats. She didn’t know of anything, nor could she find any solid research for this type of hat.
It looks like we’ll have to keep looking for ideas for 15th century Staryu cosplay.
*Google Book is a great place to start research, by the by, since it searches the full text of a book, whether you can see those scanned pages or not. It helps you refine terms and points you toward possible sources. I kind of adore it.
My hat is off to you as you continue your research into fancy headgear.